OPINION

A fierce battle looms

There has been plenty of talk regarding cracking down on corruption and vested interests in this country. From Costas Karamanlis’s “pimps” we have arrived at Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis’s e-mail. If you read it carefully, you realize that a large portion of the new program deals with this crucial issue. Besides, it’s common knowledge that the reason why the troika, and the IMF in particular, pulled the rug from underneath the government in the fall was because they felt that Antonis Samaras’s administration would not have dared to stand up to vested interests.

SYRIZA’s rhetoric on this particular issue coincided to a large extent with the lenders’ conclusions. Let’s assume that New Democracy and PASOK indeed failed to go up against “pimps” preying on certain crucial sectors of the economy, especially those tied to the state. But will the current administration succeed? Varoufakis appears rather obsessed with this matter and firmly believes that the country’s growth has been curbed because of these vested interests and corruption.

This battle will be hard to win, however, even if the necessary political will is in place. To begin with, as strange as it may sound, a prime minister is particularly powerless in this case. In order to fight corruption you need institutions which are operating properly, as in other European countries, whether it’s the justice system or the ministries themselves. And let’s not forget that it’s a lonely battle. Any PM wishing to fight vested interests – in other words to go after those bleeding the rest of society dry – will face a very tough front.

Essentially, Alexis Tsipras is set to confront two very different groups. One the one hand are the romantics who had hoped for a rift with the eurozone as they believe that it’s legitimate for Greece to follow a non-European, Latin American growth model. They will fight Tsipras because he betrayed them.

Then there are also the cynics who hid behind the holy anti-bailout struggle out of fear they would be deprived of the kind of privileges and protection that allowed them to get unjustifiably rich without contributing anything to production. These people wanted the country to remain in the eurozone while they operated in a drachma-style environment – in other words without having to undergo any kind of checks – or to return to the drachma so that they could act as kings in a super-cheap banana republic.

If Tsipras and Varoufakis mean what was written in the latter’s e-mail to the eurozone, the battle is bound to be ferocious. There is a lot of money involved and the profit margins are huge..